Cow Signals Workshops Help Improve Farmers' Understanding of Their Cows

UK - Dairy farmers can improve the health and production of their cows by making small changes to their buildings that encourage them to express their natural behaviour.
calendar icon 9 July 2018
clock icon 2 minute read


That was the key message from Master Trainer Rob Davies at the first of many Cow Signals workshops organised by AHDB Dairy in mid-June.

The meetings support AHDB’s optimal dairy systems programme which is helping farmers’ lower costs and increase efficiencies.

Mr Davies said: "Cows always tell the truth. Understanding the signals they give out can help farmers manage stress and produce happier healthier cows who live longer and are less prone to disease."

As well as explaining a cows’ physical and behavioural indications, the workshop included a practical session in the sheds where farmers could try out their observation skills.

Dairy farmer Mark Wood, who attended the workshop, said, "I really enjoyed the day. A lot of what Rob said was common sense, but sometimes it helps look at things from a fresh perspective. A lot of little things can make a big difference and sometimes those little things need pointing out.

"The workshop has made me think about what to look at back at home. I’m definitely going to be looking at my feed barrier placement, to stop neck rubbing, which will hopefully improve feed intakes. In the future I would also like to look at lighting and lux figures, to try and improve feed intakes even more."

Cows should spend on average 14 hours lying, six hours feeding, two hours socialising and two hours milking a day, doing a little of each of these in two hour cycles.

"Uncomfortable beds, lack of easy access to feed and water or poor ventilation can all disrupt a cow’s natural behaviour and cause stress," continued Mr Davies.

"Farmers should focus on bedding and feed as this is where cows spend most of their time. It’s not always possible to make lots of changes at once so you have to think about what is going to have the biggest impact for the lowest cost."

There are spaces left on the Cow Signals workshops taking place throughout July and August. More details and booking can be found at:

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